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Brazilian Cops Accused of Executions During Raid

24 people designated as criminals were killed in police action
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 7, 2021 4:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – A bloody, hourslong gunbattle in a Rio de Janeiro slum echoed into Friday, with authorities saying the police mission killed two dozen criminals while residents and activists claimed human rights abuses. It was just after sunrise Thursday when dozens of officers from Rio de Janeiro state’s civil police stormed Jacarezinho, a favela in the city’s northern zone, per the AP. They were targeting drug traffickers from one of Brazil’s most notorious criminal organizations, Comando Vermelho, and the bodies piled up quickly. When the fighting stopped, there were 25 dead—one police officer and 24 people described by the police as “criminals.” But “even if the victims were suspected of criminal association, which has not been proven, summary executions of this kind are entirely unjustifiable,” said Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International's executive director in Brazil.

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The raid sought to rout gang recruitment of teenagers, police said in a statement, which also cited Comando Vermelho’s "warlike structure of soldiers equipped with rifles, grenades, bulletproof vests." One resident told the AP that a man barged into her home around 8am bleeding from a gunshot wound. He hid in her daughter’s room, but police came rushing in behind him. She said that she and her family saw officers shoot the unarmed man. On Friday, protesters gathered outside police headquarters near Jacarezinho to denounce the violence, holding a banner that read "STOP KILLING US!" Felipe Curi, a detective in Rio’s civil police, denied there were any executions. "There were no suspects killed. They were all traffickers or criminals who tried to take the lives of our police officers and there was no other alternative," he said.

(Read more Rio de Janeiro stories.)

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